Saturday, February 27, 2010

Maryland AG Predicts Court will Recognize Out-of-State Same-Sex Marriages

Hooray! A state senator asked the Maryland Attorney General whether Maryland could recognize same-sex marriages that are valid where they were performed. In a 53-page opinion, the AG predicted that Maryland courts are likely to recognize such marriages. Note, though, that the question was whether the state could recognize such marriages, not whether it must. Indeed, the AG found that there is no requirement that valid same-sex marriages be recognized, but no prohibition, either.

It's a long opinion and I've gotta be somewhere, so I admit I haven't read the whole thing. So here are a couple links for real people, like me, who have shorter attention spans than, uh, lawyers like me.

Washington Post editorial
Christian Science Monitor

By the way, I disagree with the implication of both articles that the AG said Maryland must or should recognize such marriages. I didn't read the whole thing, but I'm not convinced that these writers did, either.

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Chicken. State Bird.

Wow. This is wrong on so many levels. A restaurant owner in Augusta, Georgia, has taken up an important cause on behalf of the people of this fair state. Currently, the state bird is the brown thrasher. That's this little guy (or gal) right here:


According to my research, the brown thrasher is state bird because the garden ladies, who are so wonderful at getting things done, got it done.
But now, rallying against those fine women is Chris Cunningham, who owns eight Wife Saver restaurants in Georgia and South Carolina.

I could just stop there. 

So anyway, Cunningham thinks the state bird ought to be the chicken. Yes, that's right. The chicken. As in cluck, cluck, cockadoodle doo. As in Henny Penny. But here, let Cunningham tell you:
 It's a pretty bird, nothing against the brown thrasher, but the chicken brings millions of dollars.
'People need to get online, call us, get a yard sign, ask for a t-shirt, do something,' Cunningham said. 'I just want to see how people think about it, and maybe the legislators might listen to us. At last the chicken will get a little respect out of the deal.'
 Yeah. I'm thinking Foghorn Leghorn and his peeps at the chicken factory farm would be so much happier if only they had some respect along with their hormone-spiked birdseed and two-cubic-inch cages.

I will say, though, that I'm touched at how Cunningham got the idea.  
 My wife and I, we sit on the patio and have a cocktail and we were sitting there thinking, ‘what a waste.' The brown thrasher is the state bird, and what's it ever done for the state of Georgia?
And I bet chickens all over Georgia have a major resentment over this terrible injustice. I know I would.

DISCLAIMER: I eat chicken. But I feel guilty about it. Really!

Lazy-Ass Librarian in the Kitchen

It seems that my domestic disposition knows no bounds.

I am taking time out of my frenetic day (okay, it's quarter to three in the morning and I can't sleep) to post links to two videos, both of which pertain to cooking baking.

The first item is Mark King's latest video-blog entry at The Body (see my review of his book here). Meaningful and honest conversation, plus a recipe for brownies to boot.

The second is an adorable stop-action video for making cookies. If cooking really worked this way, I think I'd be better at it.

Adobe Photoshop Cook from Lait Noir on Vimeo.

Now, I really must be going. I have a meeting in only, uh, 17 hours.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hooray for Infant J and his Two Daddies!

Yesterday, in a carefully constructed and complex decision, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the state of Louisiana to issue a new birth certificate to a baby with two dads. In other words, Louisiana has to put both men's names on the certificate.

Waaaaiiiit a minute. Louisiana? Recognizing a same-sex adoption? Yes, indeed, courtesy of Ye Olde United States Constitution. The “Full Faith and Credit” clause, to be precise. That’s the part that says:
Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.
In other words, what a judge says in Vegas, doesn’t necessarily stay in Vegas.

So how did Louisiana get mixed up in such a sordid business? Here’s the background. Infant J was born in Louisiana. The happy dads who adopted him live in San Diego, but adopted the boy through a court in New York, where same-sex adoptions are legal. (I was going to say it’s sort of like rescuing a cat who lives in another state, but I thought better of it). J’s birth certificate listed ... I don’t know what it listed, but I presume it listed J’s birth parents. As is customary, the couple sought a new birth certificate listing both their names as parents.

Well, Louisiana didn’t much like that idea, so its Registrar of Records (the Poobah of Paperwork, if you will) said, uh, nope, we’re not gonna do that, cuz only married couples can adopt kids in our state.

The dads sued Louisiana in federal court, based on a couple different arguments. They argued, first, that the Full Faith and Credit clause of the United States Constitution says Louisiana has to honor the adoption. Second, they argued that the Registrar’s failure to issue the document violated the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. (That civil rights stuff can be such a nuisance, can’t it?) I think there was a third reason but the opinion is 36 pages long and I don’t feel like reading it again.

The district (trial) court found that the Registrar’s argument was weak. Really weak. So weak, in fact, it ruled in favor the dads without even going through the bother of a trial (in legalese, it granted a summary judgment to J and his parents). The Registrar appealed.

Well, the federal appeals court for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision based on the Full Faith and Credit clause. Which is pretty darned cool, considering that the Fifth Circuit includes Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. And the decision was unanimous.

I suppose I should explain the Full Faith and Credit Clause a little more. The clause has been interpreted to apply to court judgments. So, if a court decides something in New Jersey, a court in New Mexico can’t undecide it. Adoptions are court judgments, and have long been held subject to the Full Faith and Credit clause.

(The FFC does not, however, apply to statutes on matters about which each state is perfectly capable of making its own laws. That’s why gay marriages are probably not going to transport very well over state lines.)

Why this distinction between judgments and statutes? Dunno. Just because.

(hey, FFC law is actually kind of complex, and frankly, I just don’t have the patience to connect the dots, okay?).

Now, of course, Louisiana has the right to appeal the Fifth Circuit’s ruling on this to the Supreme Court. So little J may not see a new birth certificate until he’s growing facial hair.

But it’ll come. Yeah. It’ll come.

Thank you, Fifth Circuit, for moving us two steps forward.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Don't mess with grandma.

I recognized her immediately from last year’s legislative session: soft, shoulder-length grey hair curled in a flip; sparkling blue eyes looking fearlessly into mine with purpose and affection; brightly colored clothes selected for a lengthy bus commute; and a pull-along bag topped with miscellaneous stuff that made sense to her and was a mystery to me. Just like last year, she had traveled at least an hour by bus and train to voice her concerns to people of power.

Last year we talked for the first time as we waited for a committee meeting to begin. This year, we are old friends. She is one of the people I admire most at the capitol. No one pays her to appear at hearings. She has no slick presentations. She doesn’t even really know how committee meetings work, but that doesn’t stop her. She asks to speak regardless of the agenda, and the senators let her because it’s the polite thing to do.

She is the best our nation has to offer. A walking, talking civics lesson. A testament to representative government. And her efforts won't affect policy in the slightest.

But when she joins with tens, or hundreds, or thousands of these beautiful patriots, she becomes part of a force that can stare down the largest of corporations and the coldest of politicians.

Here come the Garden Club Ladies.

Thursday, February 04, 2010